BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4)– A Colorado couple was among the 11 people killed in a plane crash Friday afternoon on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Bryan and Ashley Weikel were celebrating their first wedding anniversary on the island when the plane they were riding for skydiving crashed.
In an exclusive interview with CBS4’s Dillon Thomas, the Weikel family said the young couple died doing what they loved, exploring the world with the person their dearly loved.
Bryan Weikel’s mother, Kathy Weikel-Gerk, and his siblings, Kenneth Reed and Adrienne Keller, told CBS4 the couple was ecstatic to go skydiving on their anniversary trip.
“They wanted to go so bad,” Weikel-Gerk said. “I begged him to not go skydiving. I begged him not to go.”
The family saw pictures and video on social media from the young couple, last posted at Dillingham Airfield.
“Bryan, on his Snapchat, had posted a video of the plane pulling up to get them. That was the last thing they (posted),” Weikel-Gerk said.
Reed said he texted his brother multiple times in the minutes, and hours, that followed their scheduled jump time. However, after 15 hours without a response, he grew worried.
Reed said he got online and Googled skydiving in Hawaii.
“The first thing that popped up was the headline that a plane had crashed. I just knew right then,” Reed said. “It is hard to stand back up from something like that.”
The family said the tail number on the Snapchat matched the number from the plane that crashed. Witnesses say the plane only raised 75-100 feet off the ground before rolling and crashing in a nosedive.
The family added the coroner in Oahu was unable to confirm the identities of the deceased from the crash at the time this story was published, however they were confident their loved ones were on the plane. They sent dental records to Hawaii for use in the confirmation process.
The Weikels described Bryan as a man who was always trying to make others laugh, while also proving his devout love for his wife. Bryan and Ashley were in love for more than 10 years.
“They didn’t do anything without each other. So, the way they went, it was the way it was supposed to go,” Reed said.
According to the Associated Press, federal investigators will review repair and inspection records on the skydiving plane that became inverted before crashing shortly after takeoff on Oahu’s North Shore, killing all 11 people on board in the deadliest civil aviation accident since 2011.
The same plane sustained substantial damage to its tail section in a 2016 accident while carrying skydivers over Northern California.